Express News Service
Since April 26, 58 families with home-quarantined positive patients at GK-II are being treated to a one-dish gourmet lunch that Chef Radhika Khandelwal prepares at her restaurant, Fig & Maple outlet in the same vicinity. The menu, subject to change every week, with one new dish every day, has immunity powerhouse offerings such as Pumpkin and Barley Risotto today, Tamarind Eggplant/Fish Curry with Kodo Rice tomorrow, Egg Curry with Kerala Rice on Friday, Sweet Potato and Spinach Burger on Saturday… certainly cuts through the stereotype of bland, sick person’s diet one is conditioned to assume. Moreover, this food service being free (pay as you wish, and open to donations) and catering only to a limited crowd has caused envy and admiration in other parts of Delhi-NCR.
But Khandelwal and business partner, Ravish Bhavnani, can only do so much. Last week, the duo went against the tide by discontinuing their delivery service, so that their 32-member staff can stay safe at home. For this service, they pooled in their own resources with some aid from family, friends and well-wishers, and are using their restaurant’s kitchen (to ensure highest levels of hygiene as the couple have three dogs at home) that was deep-sanitised before work on the food service began.
Between the two, they handle purchase of ingredients, cooking, cleaning, packaging and even delivery in their Volkswagen Vento between 12:30-1:30pm every day. Hence, after announcing their service via their Instagram handles, they could yes to only 58 families close to the restaurant (they don’t have an e-pass, but have formally stated their purpose in print stamped by the company letterhead, Radish Hospitality Pvt. Ltd).
The main reason behind rolling out such an eclectic menu, for Khandelwal, stemmed from this innate need to help. “I think people with Covid deserve a treat, and cooking is the only thing I know. Also, I advocate a lot of seasonal produce, and I am aware that for a Covid patient, it is important to have alternate grains, lesser fat, in their diet. So, the risotto is made from barley, red snapper and eggplant accompany the kodo millet, egg curry is with Kerala red rice, chicken/vegetarian noodles has Soba noodles.”
The meals appear elaborate but consist of very few elements, so these can be put together swiftly. “Plus, with us professionals running the service, the health and safety standards are in place. So uniforms are put to wash the moment we are done, all packaging has double marking, double bagging…”In the near future, Khandelwal wants to amplify the initiative and get more restaurants onboard. “For now, I want to see how this model works, because these are dark times, and I don’t know whether I have the bandwidth to lead a bigger initiative at this point.”
In a nutshell
The menu, subject to change every week, with one new dish every day, has immunity powerhouse offerings such as Pumpkin and Barley Risotto today, Tamarind Eggplant/Fish Curry with Kodo Rice tomorrow, Egg Curry with Kerala Rice on Friday, Sweet Potato and Spinach Burger on Saturday… certainly cuts through the stereotype of bland, sick person’s diet one is conditioned to assume.
GK-II residents can message Khandelwal on WhatsApp (+ 91 8800665972)